(p. A13) Until the mid-1990s, the internet was little more than an arcane set of technical standards used by academics. Few predicted the profound effect it would have on society. Today, blockchain–the technology behind the digital currency bitcoin–might seem like a trinket for computer geeks. But once widely adopted, it will transform the world.
Blockchain offers a way to track items or transactions using a shared digital “ledger.” Blocks of new transactions are added at the end of the chain, and encryption ensures that it remains unbroken–tamper-proof and error-free. This is significantly more efficient than the current methods for logging and sharing such information.
Consider the process of buying a house, a complex transaction involving banks, attorneys, title companies, insurers, regulators, tax agencies and inspectors. They all maintain separate records, and it’s costly to verify and record each step. That’s why the average closing takes roughly 50 days. Blockchain offers a solution: a trusted, immutable digital ledger, visible to all participants, that shows every element of the transaction.
For the full commentary, see:
GINNI ROMETTY. “How Blockchain Will Change Your Life.” The Wall Street Journal (Tues., Nov. 8, 2016): A13.
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Nov. 7, 2016, and has the title “KEYWORDS; Is Engine of Innovation in Danger of Stalling?”)